And no, I don’t eat salad for every meal.
*All photos taken by the author
Did you ever wonder what a vegan diet looks like? Well, today I’m going to give you a glimpse into what I eat in a typical day as a vegan endurance athlete. I have also included some photos of my meals, since I am a very visual person, and I know many of you can probably relate.
I typically wake up to start my work day around 6:00 or 6:30 AM. The first thing I do is groggily walk downstairs and make myself a cup of coffee. In the winter, I usually make a hot cup of coffee using bagged coffee grinds that I get at the grocery store (my two favorites are the hazelnut flavored coffee by Panera and the french vanilla by Dunkin’ Donuts).
Now that winter is in full force, I love warming up with a fresh, hot cup of coffee. So, this morning, I grabbed my mickey mouse coffee mug and brewed a fresh cup of coffee in my Keurig coffee maker. I then added a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, about half a packet of Truvia, and a dash of cinnamon, and my morning coffee was complete.
By 8:00 or 8:30, I finally start to get hungry for breakfast. I have two typical go-to breakfasts that I make regularly. The first one, which I had this morning, is oatmeal with peanut butter, frozen berries, cinnamon, and a splash of almond milk. I like to cook my oatmeal on the stovetop rather than in the microwave when I have time. Even though it takes a few extra minutes, it is well worth it, as I think the oatmeal tastes better this way.
The second breakfast that I like to make when I have a little bit more time in the morning is banana oat pancakes. I love simplicity when it comes to cooking, and these pancakes are great because they only require a few ingredients.
All you have to do is grind up about 2/3 cup of oats, mash up a banana, and combine them thoroughly with some water or almond milk. Now, I also like to add a splash of vanilla extract, and about 1/8 tsp each of baking powder and apple cider vinegar. However, those last three ingredients really are not even necessary. Then, I just cook the batter, and within a few minutes, I have a fresh stack of pancakes ready to top with fruit and peanut butter.
Around 10:30 AM, I usually like to have a snack. I like to go for a run outside at around 11:00 AM or earlier most days, so I try to eat something light that will give me energy for my run but won’t weigh me down. This varies a lot day-to-day, but today I went for a rice cake with peanut butter and a few dark chocolate chunks. Another go-to option for me is a banana with peanut butter and cinnamon. I also like to have a glass of almond milk with my snack, because I think it pairs nicely and it gives me some calcium and vitamins.
I like to eat lunch within 30 minutes of finishing my run for optimal recovery. While I typically stick to the same few breakfast options and morning snack each day, I love to switch up my lunches and dinners. Today, I went for some corn street tacos with tofu, black beans, broccoli, salsa, nutritional yeast, and onions. This meal was fresh, easy, and of course, delicious.
An afternoon pick-me-up is very typical for me. I like to take a quick work break around 3:00 PM to recharge and get some extra fuel in. Lately, I have been loving a bowl of cereal with peanut flour and cinnamon mixed in. I like to soak my bowl of cereal in almond milk until the cereal pieces get soggy (I’m team soggy cereal all the way). This combination may sound odd to some, but it tastes amazing, so don’t knock it until you try it.
By this time, I am already hungry for dinner. Today, I had one of my go-to meals - pasta with vegetables, tofu, nutritional yeast, and marinara sauce. My pasta of choice today was Trader Joe’s black bean pasta, but I also love red lentil pasta, Banza chickpea pasta, and traditional whole wheat pasta. While I’m not as picky about the pasta itself, the Mezzetta brand pasta sauce is pretty much the only one I use. I have tried many different pasta sauces, and this one really is the best. Not only is it flavorful, but the ingredients list is also short and recognizable. So, if you are looking for a new sauce to try, give this one a shot.
I always have to finish off my night with something sweet. Sometimes that is peanut butter and banana toast topped with cinnamon. Other times, like tonight, I make homemade banana ice cream. All you need is a frozen banana or two (freeze the bananas in chunks for easier blending). I throw about 4 chunks into my mini food processor with the tiniest splash of almond milk. Then, I blend the bananas up until a smooth whipped consistency is achieved.
This usually takes about 5–10 minutes, and I stop occasionally to scrape the banana mixture. Since there isn’t much liquid in there, you have to keep moving the mixture around and scraping it down to ensure it continues to blend. While the process is a bit tedious, the end result is well worth it. I like to top my banana ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and peanut butter.
And that’s it.
That concludes a full run-down of what my vegan diet looks like in a typical day. My top tip is that no matter what diet you follow, keep it simple and switch things up to keep your meals interesting. Food is delicious and it should be enjoyed, but that doesn’t mean your meals have to be unhealthy, boring, or monotonous. While vegan diets have a bad reputation for being bland and expensive, I can assure you that is not the case. I hope that this article shed some light on the fact that a vegan diet can be healthy, inexpensive, and exciting all at the same time.